Harvick battles for third straight NASCAR Cup victory

Kevin Harvick is the Monster Energy Series points leader – holding a slim 12-point edge over Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., who are tied for second.

Photo by Beau Bearden.

Kevin Harvick is the Monster Energy Series points leader – holding a slim 12-point edge over Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., who are tied for second.

AVONDALE – Kevin Harvick wanted to send a message.

The driver of the No. 4 car for Stewart-Haas Racing did just that Sunday as he won his third consecutive race in the NASCAR Cup Series with a victory in the TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway.

“I’m just really proud of everybody after everything this week,” Harvick said. “Everybody came here mad, with a chip on their shoulder, wanting to do exactly what we did today. That’s the type of determination and grit that you want in a race team. There’s nothing better to be a part of than something like that.”

Harvick entered Sunday’s race following a week filled with controversy over his win last week at Las Vegas. NASCAR inspected his Ford and discovered a violation that cost him seven playoff points and 20 regular season points. Despite that on his shoulders, Harvick found his groove late in race to pick up his ninth career victory in Phoenix.

Harvick also became the first driver since 2015 to tally three straight wins – Kyle Busch and Joey Logano accomplished the feat that year.

“Actions speak a whole lot louder than all words I can say this week,” Harvick said. “Parking that thing in Victory Lane is the most powerful message you can send – it says the most about our organization and our team.”

Harvick is now the Monster Energy Series points leader – holding a slim 12-point edge over Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., who are tied for second.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing, finished second Sunday despite leading a race-high 128 laps. Chase Elliott took third, followed by Denny Hamlin in fourth and Truex Jr. in fifth.

The top-10 also included three more drivers from Stewart-Haas Racing as Clint Bowyer took sixth, Aric Almirola was seventh and Kurt Busch finished 10th.

“It was an awesome day for us,” said Tony Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. “That’s probably what I’m most proud of. It’s the first time in our organization’s history that we had all four cars in the top 10.”

Kyle Busch won the first 75-lap stage, while Kurt Busch picked up the victory in stage two. On a side note, Tucson’s Alex Bowman finished 13th.

NASCAR continues its West Coast tour Sunday at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. It’s another track that Harvick enjoys as it’s not too far from his hometown of Bakersfield.

“I put a lot of emphasis on California,” Harvick said. “It’s racing in your home state and it’s a track that I really enjoy. … I’m excited about it.”